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Russia data: October refining throughput up 2.9% on year at 24.16 mil mt

London — Russian refineries processed 24.156 million mt of crude in October, up 2.9% year on year and up 2.7% from September as refinery maintenance draws to a close, according to energy ministry data published Wednesday.

Plants at the Ufa and Samara refining hubs along with Saratov, Angarsk, Omsk, Moscow, Ryazan, Kirishi, Taif and Salavat were scheduled to carry out turnarounds over September and October. Of those, Taif, Omsk, Salavat, Ryazan, Kirishi and Angarsk completed work during October. Moscow and Saratov, as well as some of the Ufa refineries were still carrying out work this month.

Gasoline production in October was 3.371 million mt, up 11.8% year on year and up 3.3% month on month, again due to refinery work.

Russia's gasoline production has been gradually increasing as refineries are upgrading and launching new gasoline production units. New FCC units are also in the plans for Lukoil's Perm and Tatneft's Taneco refineries, according to media reports.

Annual production is heading toward 45 million mt/year, which would leave significant volumes for export amid domestic consumption of around 35 million mt a year, according to sources. Russia currently exports mostly to nearby Central Asia although Kazakhstan can now cover its domestic demand after a modernization of its three refineries has been completed. This means Russian gasoline could increasingly start heading to Africa and South America, according to sources.

Diesel output was 6.691 million mt in October, up 6.7% year on year and up 6.5% from September.

Fuel oil production totaled 3.909 million mt, up 4.7% year on year and up 6.9% on the month.

Russian fuel oil production and exports have fallen steadily due to refinery modernization, with many launching delayed cokers. Medium-sized and small independent plants have reduced output, mostly for financial reasons.

Exports have nearly halved to around 35 million mt/year from some 70 million mt/year around 10 years ago, with output also down from almost 90 million mt to around 50 million mt/year.

Refineries have also boosted gas condensate processing, which yields more light products and cuts output of heavy products. They have also been switching to vacuum gasoil production to mitigate the effects of the fuel oil export duty. VGO falls under the same export duty regime as fuel oil but, because it is a more expensive product, exports are more profitable.

The reduction in fuel oil exports is expected to lead to ports switching capacity to handling light products such as gasoline and diesel, rather than fuel oil. The fuel oil terminal at the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk could be switched to handling light products, if a project for its transformation is approved by the local authorities, although for the moment no concrete decisions have been taken.

--Elza Turner, elza.turner@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jonathan Dart, jonathan.dart@spglobal.com